In 2020 the Amsterdam Street Art foundation existed for 10 years. We had scheduled a whole bunch of creative activities in and around the city of Amsterdam. Because of all the Covid-19 safety regulations, none of them was allowed.
One of our highlights was the exhibition about Amsterdam, we needed to postpone this show for 3 times but finally we can spread the news that the “Naar de Gallemiezen, an Amsterdam love story” exhibition is now up and running at art’otel gallery! For this occasion we had a small talk with the curator of the show and creative director of Amsterdam Street Art, Lars Brehm.
Hello Lars can you please tell our readers a bit more of yourself?
Hi, it’s a bit confusing, having an interview with my own colleague in my “own” office. But anyway, my name is Lars and I’m the creative director at ASA and for this occasion also the curator of the current exhibition “Naar de gallemiezen, an Amsterdam love story” I’m an artist myself, making art using various kinds of media and most of the time I use the city of Amsterdam as a subject or as reference for my work. My love for the city also results in being the curator of this show. Of course I couldn’t do this without the help of the rest of the team. (added by the interviewer..;)
So you have a multiple role at ASA, being an artist, creative director and also a curator. How did you end up here?
Well it’s cool to mention that I completely followed the vision and ambition of the Amsterdam Street Art foundation. In 2013 I saw on Facebook that ASA was hosting a “Holiday Pop-up shop” where they gave artists the opportunity to showcase and sell their own art. During that period my work was mainly focussed on design. Since a young kid I was involved with graffiti but after being arrested several times I choose a different, more safe path in creating digital. For the ASA holiday pop-up exhibition I made several Amsterdam / Street related art items. Mixing photography with digital illustrations, scanned images and so on. I sold a few items and from that moment I keep in touch with these guys
From that moment they gave me the opportunity to do several designing things, help organize smaller events and I put some time in their organisation doing things I like to do. When I heard they had this prestigious idea to host an Amsterdam Fair during Miami Art Basel in 2014, I found myself a role doing several productional activities. During that period I created some art pieces so besides doing production I also was asked to be part of the group of artists showcasing their work during Miami Art Basel. This experience was complete madness, a really dope trip where I learned a lot. My work got picked up by a gallery in Hollywood and I saw and took the opportunity to be more involved with ASA. When the founder of ASA, IVES.one decided to leave the Netherlands and live in Barcelona he handed the “directors” role over to me. From that point I took my role very seriously and this resulted in the role I have now. Doing all kinds of creative things with a wide orientated group of artists and taking care of dope projects and giving the art form and the artist the place they deserve. Of Course I couldn’t do this without the help of the rest of the team. (added by the interviewer..;
Can you tell how you came up with the concept for this exhibition?
The “Naar de gallemiezen, an Amsterdam love story” exhibition is about Amsterdam, about vandalism, destruction, rebellion but at the same time the love for the most bad-ass city of the world. This concept completely visualises my own story. From a young age I was involved with all these things. I love the raw structure of the city, the dirty no-go areas, illegal parties, Ajax but also art forms based on these principles. This concept needed some extra attention. I aimed on having artists involved who actually gave Amsterdam a face or maybe even are a face of Amsterdam, as a person, the art they make or the story behind them.
Cool to mention is that in 2013 I did my first solo exhibition. “Beazarility presents Amsterdam”. For me this was a really cool and unique experience, I even sold a few art pieces but I simply was way too inexperienced organising a solo exhibition by myself. Besides having sleepless nights and putting a lot of money in it, it worked out pretty well for me. (thanks to family and friends) I always admired doing something similar but more professional, with top notch artists who present the city in their own unique way, invite artists that I look up to and get all these elements together in a really cool venue. When we’re asked to curate two exhibitions at art’otel gallery I was excited to find a way to work out my own ideal exhibition. During the years I have met a lot of artists and become friends with even the guys that I looked up to. With this and of course ASA as the official organising party I could get all my favorites on board.
There is a clear role for Graffiti in this show. What is the role of Graffiti in Street art world, in your eyes?
For me Graffiti is the foundation. My house is located almost trackside so when a painted train passes by It always gives a smile on my face. Graffiti is a lifestyle, a real subculture with a lot of unwritten “rules”. I like the fact that many taggers and bombers found out about the possibilities to earn money with their own way of creating art. The only difference is the way of presenting your work. Showing and selling a canvas in the gallery needs a bit more attention and maybe a background story then a late night throw-up at the corner of the street. Both have their own specifics and I can truly say I love both.
Can you tell a bit more about your personal favorites who’re part of this show?
For those who visited the exhibition and read the artist info sheets, might discovered a few of my personal motivations. But to name a few.. In the early 90’s I was too young for visiting house parties but I did collect all these great flyers. I was one of the terror kids that sneaked into record stores and took them all, just to trade on school. Outland Records on the Zeedijk was one of these spots and while coming into the store I was always impressed by the record sleeves designed by DADARA. I even once bought the dirty used coffee cups with DADARA illustrations on it at Reflex Gallery on the Utrechtsestraat simply because I had absolutely no money to buy original art from DADARA.
When I got older I was (and still) visiting (illegal) parties in and around Amsterdam. That’s where I saw Bas Kosters hosting some crazy performances, for me, a reason to explore if he’s willing to be part of this show. Graffiti writers HIGH and Pengo were some examples of guys I looked up to. But when HIGH asked me to join him designing for AFCA I even became friends with them. I’m really stoked about having photo’s of the private collection of Pengo during this show.
Henk Schiffmacher tattooed my back piece, this work I designed as the flyer of my solo exhibition “Beazarility presents Amsterdam” exhibition. Aatje Veldhoen was my (in)direct neighbor. I didn’t know him but I knew the shiny penis door handle of his house… After some years I finally met him and learned that he used his own penis as a model for the door handle. Unfortunately Aatje died, High also died. For me this was extra special to have these artists being part of this show.
Do you have some extra motivation to visit this show?
Well, besides the fact that I’m really proud of getting these wide orientated group of artists together and producing this together with the team of Amsterdam Street Art, it is a really cool show with various unexpected cool objects and artworks. They all have their own story and tell their own interpretation of the concept of the show. art’otel gallery is open 7 days a week from 11 am till 11 pm and is located in front of Central Station. I really can’t imagine any excuse to pass by without visiting it. You can combine this with a visit to the renewed ARCA bar and restaurant on the first floor. The food is amazing!
Okay, last question. After 10 years of ASA, what is still on your wishlist to achieve?
That’s a tough question. Almost on a daily basis I receive emails, calls and internally ideas that are high potential to achieve. I would love to go back to Miami Art Basel to host a creative melting pot of graffiti and street art. But at this point I like to focus on a new working space. We still have our gallery space at GO Gallery but soon we need to leave our creative office at MTN store Amsterdam. It would be great if we can find a cool spot in Amsterdam where we can combine all things we like to do. Doing clean desk work, meeting and hanging around with artists, paint and even have the possibility to give workshops or do small creative events. So if someone with an empty warehouse is reading this… Let me know!!! We are flexible and open for any kind of creative adventure!
“So if someone with an empty warehouse is reading this… Let me know!!! We are flexible and open for any kind of creative adventure“